The Shackled Continent
1. What are the key themes of the book and what is the author’s opinion on them? The Shackled Continent is a lively, engaging and ultimately hopeful book about Saharan Africa written by Robert Guest. The author analyses the question why Africa still is so poor and reflects the problems in this region like poverty, disease, war, corruption… and it is enlivened by the stories and encounters that he recites, and by the idea, that things need not be this way forever.
There are differences of culture and history in these different countries, but again there are similarities of experience that marks out much of the post-colonial period. Corruption is endemic, poverty everywhere, wars are brutal and never-ending, and AIDS daily saps at the lives of people. The author criticises the failure in leadership of most African countries and reflects that Africa still needs to go a long way to improve, but at the end, it will prosper. 2. What did you find interesting in the book? Why?
Honestly I found The Shackled Continent a very interesting book and could not say exactly how much I liked a particular part better than the others, and I’ve always wanted to know what exactly is happening in this region of the world, which do not stop watching unpleasant images on television and read in newspapers chilling news. But I always wanted to go into this subject without the influences of the media, explained by someone who has experienced firsthand. So if I have to stay with any part of the book, I get the answer that gives the author about the principal African problem.
Guest argues it is because African governments have been either rigidly authoritarian or riven by corruption and tribalism. Governments have been wedded to central planning and consequently have failed to develop. Freedom, political and economic, has been denied to millions, and local elites have prospered as their populations have suffered. I’ll stick with this idea, as it was one of my concerns before reading this book, and now it helps me to understand the problem. 3. What questions would you like to ask the author (at least 3)? Really socialist tendencies of African governments still hobble African economies? -It’s true that aid can help, but it’s always government economic policies and administration that dictates success or failure? -Why developed countries do not more to eradicate the AIDS virus in this region of the world? Can there be any kind of interest behind? 4. Can you suggest solutions to the problems/issues covered by the author? Personally I have some ways to solve the problems described by the author, but I don’t know if could be done someday.
To combat poverty, developed countries could do more awareness campaigns for people to make financial contributions of more importance. I’m sure if everyone only donate one euro, things could be better in Africa. The same with the disease. It should be made more drugs collection in wealthy countries to be allocated in this region. These countries could donate a large scale, as I’m sure they can do it. To fight wars and corruption, developed countries should take a greater role, and send troops if necessary to calm the situation and to monitor and prevent any kind of corruption that can take place in this region.
I know that these proposals are not easy to apply, but if we all could agree, I think we could do it. 5. Is there anything you disagree with the author about? We could say that I’m totally agreed with the author of the book, since I haven’t enough knowledge about it to argue with the author. But if I were to argue something to the author, the statement would be made ??on farmers. Guest said that farmers without credit can’t buy seeds or fertilizer to make the best use of their land. I’m not agreeing with this because I think there must be some kind of subsidy or support from the State to these farmers.
I don’t know exactly, because I haven’t a lot of knowledge about that, but I think it would be possible. Another thing is that in the conclusion, the author says something like many Africans say that Africa’s problems are another’s country’s fault (e. g. USA or European Union), and he disagree with that, but I think that in some way Africans are right, at least in the fact with this trade barrier story. 6. Have you learned anything from the book that helps you to understand the world?
Reading this book has helped me to take off my blindfold and understand once and for all what is happening in Africa. That wonderful continent that both can offer and how it seems to be forgotten. I have updated all the injustices that take place on this continent, and the deaf that developed countries are doing about it, and it has helped me to sensibly more with this topic. Reading these kind of books, you realize that people only care about themselves and ignore what is happening behind the barriers of their respective countries.
Life can be wonderful in developed countries, but we must be aware that there are people who are not as fortunate as us, who live a daily hell and that many of them are alone. We also can help. We must help. 7. Is there anything in the book which you can relate to the degree you are studying? I am studying Business Administration and Management, and I think it’s always good to know what is happening in the world and why it is happening, and not just relate to the degree you are doing, but as general culture.
With this reading I learned the forms of government in this region and also the type of resources available and inquire into their economies. Now I know that’s what a country needs to do to improve and that is what we must avoid to sink. I think all students should read these books to enrich their knowledge and expertise to take are as important or more that you learn in college. Because that’s the real world, the world that tomorrow we face.